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Report: Bolton discussed fivefold increase in military burden sharing in Japan

By Elizabeth Shim
National security adviser John Bolton discussed defense burden sharing in Tokyo last week, according to a Japanese press report. File Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI
National security adviser John Bolton discussed defense burden sharing in Tokyo last week, according to a Japanese press report. File Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

July 31 (UPI) -- White House national security adviser John Bolton may have suggested the Japanese government will be asked to increase its share of military costs fivefold, according to a Japanese press report.

The Asahi Shimbun reported Wednesday Bolton said the Trump administration could soon be requesting Japan pay more for the cost of keeping 50,000 U.S. troops in Japan.

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Bolton reportedly made the remarks during his meeting in Tokyo with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Shotaro Yachi, national security adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Japan currently pays about $8.7 billion in burden sharing. The payment covers 2016 to 2020. The agreement was reached during the Obama administration and expires in late March 2021.

President Donald Trump has consistently said Japan needs to increase its share of costs for the U.S. military presence in the country. In June, Trump had reportedly called the 1951 U.S.-Japan security treaty a "one-sided" deal that obligates the United States to come to Japan's defense if the country falls under attack.

Bolton may have made a similar proposal in Seoul last week, according to the Asahi.

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The U.S. move to push allies in Asia to pay more for troops comes at a time when Japan and South Korea are locked in a trade dispute.

Tokyo's restriction of key chemicals used to make South Korean technology products could be prompting the United States to take a more intervening approach, South Korean paper Korea Economic Daily reported Wednesday.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha is to meet with her Japanese counterpart Kono on Thursday at a regional security forum in Thailand, according to the report.

The United States may have urged Japan to not take further retaliatory measures against Korea, including removing Korea from a "white list" of countries with minimal trade restrictions, according to the Asahi.

Japan's trade retaliations began after South Korean courts approved Japanese company compensation for Korean forced laborers during World War II.

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